U.S., France reach agreement on Mideast resolution

France and the United States reached a deal Friday on a final draft resolution aimed at ending the monthlong conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, and said the U.N. Security Council would vote on the text later in the day.

Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones-Parry said the resolution would give a U.N. force in Lebanon an enhanced mandate to help coordinate the eventual withdrawal of Israeli troops. But it would ultimately be deployed under Chapter 6 of the U.N. Charter — which Israel has previously opposed.

That decision was a key concession to Lebanon and Hezbollah. Israel wanted the force deployed under the Charter’s Chapter 7, which would give the troops more robust rules of engagement.

An individual close to the Israeli government said there was a “good chance” it would accept the cease-fire proposal. The individual spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the government’s high-stakes negotiations.

If confirmed, it would be a dramatic reversal of the position of the Israeli government, which ordered a massive ground invasion of southern Lebanon even as the U.N. deliberations went on.

“You’ll find that the mandate for the force is very robust,” Jones-Parry said.

“Although the government of Lebanon will have gained a certain amount in the changes that we’ve made, it’s also the case that Israel has had concerns and no one has wanted to lose Israel from that equation,” he said.

The two sides sent the new text to the governments of Israel and Lebanon, but a French diplomat said the vote would go ahead whatever the response.

The announcement came after a morning of heated negotiations between senior diplomats, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, to accommodate concerns from Israel and Lebanon.